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State college campus that awards credits for life experience opens in Selden

SUNY Empire State College's new $14 million

 SUNY Empire State College's new $14 million campus in Selden.   Credit: Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

A new branch of the state's college that is aimed at older students and awards academic credit based on life and work experience has opened in Selden, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office.

The campus — a $14 million expansion of SUNY Empire State College — began accepting students in September, but held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Jim Malatras, the college president, said in an interview.

State tax money paid for the campus, which includes hiking trails expected to open to the public in the spring or summer, Malatras said. The land, which belonged to Suffolk County, was bought by the state for $660,000, said Jason Elan, a spokesman for County Executive Steve Bellone. The sale took place in 2011, under Bellone’s predecessor, Steve Levy.

A Cuomo news release Wednesday says the campus, at 407 College Rd. is 6.6 acres and includes "meeting and working facilities," as well as "cutting-edge learning facilities for both in-person and distance learning" and "performing-arts spaces.”

Empire State College’s students undergo a "prior-learning assessment" that awards credit based on previous training and work experience outside of the traditional academic setting. The students then complete coursework based on what is needed to finish the program.

"Our model is personalized around individual students,” Malatras said, adding that it aims "to provide maximal flexibility around the student's life."

About half of students do in-person learning, and the other half do online learning with some in-person component, Malatras wrote in an email.

The median age of students in the college, which offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, is 36, according to the college website. The college has a focus on “mid-career professionals,” said Malatras, a former top aide to Cuomo.

SUNY Empire College has about 1,300 students in Suffolk, 2,400 on Long Island, 17,000 statewide and about 150 at the Selden campus, he said.

Empire State College’s other Island locations are in Old Westbury, Hauppauge and Riverhead.

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